(Warning: This blog contains graphic content and may not be suitable for lukewarm Christians.)
Imagine for a moment that you are worshiping in your local church or synagogue.
What would you do if during your worship service masked men stormed the building with weapons? – They kick down the doors, flip over the altars and round up everyone in the building. Forced to your knees you watch as they knock the pastor unconscious by cracking his skull with the butt of their rifle. The women are gathered, beaten and raped before being executed and their bodies heaped into a pile while all the men watch in horror on their knees, crying, praying, screaming out for mercy. A man jumps to his feet and attempts a brave rescue but is quickly overpowered and shot to death. These terrorists stand at the end of the line of kneeling men, placing the gun to their head they demand a rejection of Christ. If you refuse to reject Him, they blow your brains out. If you reject Him, they cut your tongue out so that you can never confess Him again. They continue down the line… the blood of the man next to you splatters against your cheek and drips down your neck. It’s your turn, the barrel is jabbing you in the back of your head…. WHAT DO YOU DO?
Sounds barbaric and unthinkable doesn’t it? Does it make you sick to even consider? You might even say that it’s impossible – that something like this would never happen here in the U.S. – and you’re probably right. Did you know the Bible is illegal in at least 52 countries around the globe? Did you know there are places where someone can be arrested simply for mentioning the name of Jesus? Did you know there are places on earth where Christians have to stay a secret, smuggle in Bibles and worship in underground churches? Did you know there are places where Christians are tortured, raped, mutilated and murdered all because of their faith? These types of horror stories happen to believers all around the world but never here in America – certainly not to this extreme. Don’t get me wrong I would never wish these horrors on anyone, however they DO happen to our brothers and sisters in Christ – we are just so far removed we don’t even think about it. It’s an out-of-sight, out-of-mind situation. The rare occasions when you do think about it, it’s probably due to a missionary or guest speaker visiting your church, trying to raise awareness – while your thoughts are something along the lines of “Better them than me, I’m so blessed to live in America.” But are you? Is a lack of persecution a sign that you are blessed? What does Jesus have to say?
“If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you. Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you.
God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven.
True blessing is found in persecution. Jesus said it Himself. We are to be happy and rejoice during times of hardship and persecution because a great reward awaits in Heaven.
Americans have been so free of any real persecution that we have become weak and lazy. The passion and zeal to share our faith has waned considerably. I have to consider as well that perhaps our passion has waned because we are not persecuted and perhaps we are not persecuted because we have no passion. It’s been a whirlpool that has sucked the American church down into lukewarm laziness. We worship in our gigantic multi-million dollar church buildings, we drive to services in our $30,000 dollar vehicles, we head home to our $150,000 dollar houses, and sit down in our $1,000 lazy-boy reclining chair. Thoughts of the persecution around the world occur maybe once a year, we have a moment of pity, say a prayer… then dwell on how “blessed” we are.
Don’t forget Jesus’ words – “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you.”
By Jesus’ words it stands to reason that if you are not being persecuted then perhaps you’re not pursuing Him. If life is easy for you and you consider yourself “blessed” then perhaps you’re missing out on something BIG. We have been called out of this world. We have been called to reject this world and to live a life that reflects our choice of rejection towards this world. The natural law of the universe as decreed by King Jesus is that the moment you separate from this world, the world HATES you! Are you hated by the world?
Ephesians 5:8-9, 13
For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true… But their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them
This is why the world hates us! When we live for Jesus, we shine His light in the darkness; the light we shine exposes the evil around us. The dark world wants to continue in it’s evil ways so the world seeks to eradicate the light. The world tries to snuff us out. The brighter your light shines, the easier it is for the world to pick you out in the darkness and attack you. But if your light dims, you begin to blend into the darkness of this world and the world persecutes you less because it can hardly tell you apart from it’s own darkness.
So let your light shine bright! Separate fully from this world and reject everything it offers. Then welcome the persecution that is guaranteed to come – there is a great reward waiting for you in God’s kingdom.
If you want to better understand some of the very true and very real persecution that occurs in this dark world, visit: http://www.persecution.com/ it is the website for Voice of the Martyrs.